Looking for some next portal fantasies to escape into? Where I Can’t Follow author Ashley Blooms has five perfect contenders.
Who doesn’t love a good portal fantasy, especially in this day and age? Books have always offered us an escape from a harsh reality, but there’s something particularly special about the idea of walking through a magical door and into a whole new world.
There’s a reason why we continue to be so obsessed with Narnia, after all. Who wouldn’t want to believe their boring old wardrobe could actually lead to a magical land full of danger and intrigue?
Whether you’ve read one or a hundred, portal fantasies never really get old because there’s always something new to discover. That’s where Ashley Blooms and her book Where I Can’t Follow come in.
Ashley’s written us a list of five portal fantasies you should consider adding to your To Be Read pile. And once you work through those, give her novel a chance. There’s a synopsis and purchase information at the end, for your convenience.
Happy reading, and may you discover many new worlds to explore.
‘Five portal fantasies to add to your TBR’ by Ashley Blooms
Growing up I thought almost anything could be a gateway to another world—the decaying swinging bridge that crossed the creek to my grandparent’s garden, a gap in my grandmother’s hulking snowball bush that let me crawl underneath, or the single pane of unbroken glass in the collapsed house just down the road from my home. When I shimmied under that snowball bush and got to see its branches, so heavy with fragrant white blooms, from underneath, it was like my world was reborn. What had once been commonplace had suddenly changed, and I was changed, too, by the experience.
That feeling of transformation, of awakening, is captured perfectly within portal stories. Characters are given a chance to cross a threshold of their own and, in doing so, change their life, the world they left behind, and the world they enter. Fraught with choices and their consequences, the portal fantasies below take on themes like immigration, identity, queerness, or what it means to be able to write your own story. Whether the portals come in the shape of a door, a book, or a big box store, these stories offer the reader the opportunity to find something better, or at the very least, something different. So if you’re in need of your own snowball bush today, below are five portal fantasies to add to your TBR.
‘Finna’ by Nino Cipri
“To go where she wanted, she had to get lost, and it seemed almost instinctual to do that now. She’d been lost for a long time, rudderless.” When an elderly customer at a big box furniture store slips through a portal to another dimension, two minimum-wage employees (who just broke up a week ago) must track her across the multiverse and protect their company’s bottom line.
‘The Ten Thousand Doors of January’ by Alix E. Harrow
“It is at the moments when the doors open, when things flow between the worlds, that stories happen.” January Scaller’s life changes when she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure, and danger. Each page reveals impossible truths about the world, and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.
‘Piranesi’ by Susanna Clark
“Perhaps even people you like and admire immensely can make you see the World in ways you would rather not.” Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls lined with thousands upon thousands of statues. He shares the house with a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.
‘The Hazel Wood’ by Melissa Albert
“I remembered less from my own life than I did from the books I read.” Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, the bad luck finally catches up to Alice. Her mother is stolen, and Alice must venture into the Hazel Wood to save her and, in doing so, discover not only where her grandmother’s stories began, but the truth about her own story as well.
‘Exit West’ by Mohsin Hamid
“We are all migrants through time.” Two young people begin a love affair in a country on the brink of civil war. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed seek out doorways that have begun to appear in their world, believing that leaving their homeland and their old lives behind is their only chance. As they enter an alien and uncertain future, they struggle to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are.
‘Where I Can’t Follow’ by Ashley Blooms hit store shelves on February 15, 2022
Maren Walker told herself she wouldn’t need to sell pills for long, that it was only means to an end. But that end seems to be stretching as far away as the other side of Blackdamp County, Kentucky. There’s always another bill for Granny’s doctor, another problem with the car, another reason she’s getting nowhere.
She dreams of walking through her little door to leave it all behind. The doors have appeared to the people in her mountain town for as long as anyone can remember, though no one knows where they lead. All anyone knows is that if you go, you’ll never come back.
Maren’s mother left through her door when Maren was nine, and her shadow has followed Maren ever since. When she faces the possibility of escaping her struggles for good, Maren must choose just what kind of future she wants to build.
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